Halloween as it stands today is an American import celebrating all things ghoulish and occult. Developing from the Christian celebration of All Hallows Eve, which itself developed from the Celtic festival of Samhain, it is now an excuse for children to knock at people’s doors and expect to get sweets and for adults to drink their body weight in booze whilst dressed up as a zombie, a vampire or a prime minister being fellated by a pig. It is also an excuse for skateboarders to put on jams, a tradition which experts believe began at the pagan sacrificial altar of Burnside, Portland. While many UK indoor skateparks put on skate events on the Saturday which Halloween fell on this year, we were happy to find ourselves laying trucks to ‘crete at The House Skatepark in Sheffield where a relatively new ritual site/bowl sat and cried out for a bloodletting.
Arriving in Yorkshire two nights before the event meant that I could take Friday evening to head to Temple of Boom in Leeds and catch X-Ray Cat Trio launching their new record; vampire surf and horror rockabilly, a perfect soundtrack to launch the weekend ahead. With Zealous Doxy opening the set with their rawly haunting folk sounds the night was a solid draw and full off old faces, with several of the OG Hyde Park miniramp crew making appearances. The end result of this was a fairly haphazard walk home from town for me and the ensuing morning-after sensation of brain cells crumbling away like weather beaten chalk cliffs. Luckily The House has considered the needs of me and three quarters of those who would be present at the jam, and the session wasn’t pencilled in to kick off until 5pm. We even reach the park slightly early, an unheard of event which meant we could warm our legs into the bowls strange kinks and curves before the demonic hordes descended.
A proper DIY effort from the skatepark’s workers has resulted in a bowl which may not be too deep but which will definitely reach up and bite from time to time – tight, kinked corners, some lumps in the transitions and coping bigger and slicker than Barry White in his heyday make for a challenging session and gives the ramp a proper character of its own. It’s basically well worth visiting if you haven’t done so already, a proper labour of love in which any trick feels like an achievement. While we work out where the lines are more people appear in small groups; some in costume, some not but most ready to skate, drink or both the night away.
While none of us quite know when the actual jam kicks off due to a crackling megaphone and bands playing next to the bowl the session is on anyway, with no-one wasting any time on going fucking turbo. Sam Pulley and Joe Howard have the bowl dialled, getting speed from every corner, hip and grind and consistently putting together lines of tricks that most would struggle with as standalones. Someone in an Aladdin outfit drops in on a ‘magic carpet’ board - carpet placed over the grip and tied on with cable ties - while a man with wild hair and eyes attempts to set fire to him with a poi stick. I assume this is a Sheffield Halloween tradition.
Potter is blasting through tricks with trademark lightfooted steez, while Blinky has channelled the still-living spirit of Scott Bourne through spray-painted arms and badly felt tipped neck tattoos and is charging full speed at spontaneous lines of footplants, backside airs and tail smacks. At some point during all this Ryan Price arrives to add to the gnarliness going on, as does Reiss Johnson.
With the bowl being tough to skate but not too deep, once legs are warmed up then attention turns to the walls and window ledges lying tantalisingly close to the bowl as well as the lectern tombstone set up. Ryan slob fastplants off the wall in the deep, Blinky backside beanplants to tail on the same spot and Potter frontside nosepicks the tombstone; one of those nosepicks which appear out of a frontside air and results in no loss of momentum, pure fluidity. The spirits of the altar are somehow not appeased by such a display of shredding, and sate their bloodlust by nudging Bradford’s Jambul off a nollie bigspin in the deep and pounding his head into the floor. The resulting deluge of claret covers enough of his upper body to be mistaken for topical make up when he departs to the pub for a Guinness to take the edge off, but I suppose if you grew up taking BMX slams down handrails then a little concrete to the head isn’t a big deal. Bring it on, ramp spirits!
The rest of the night goes off without any particularly grim slams, a surprise given the shit that people were throwing themselves at. Ryan goes backside at the tombstone for the mirror image of Potter’s nosepick, while Blinky becomes the first to hit the ledge which leads into the ‘gig’ room (watch the footage for clarification) – taking inspiration more from Andy Roy than Scott Bourne with a rock melon grab down to rock. Meanwhile, Dean Greensmith has been slowly building up more and more momentum with each run and is now absolutely charging through massive tweaked airs over the hip, full speed back crails or switch front rock slides across the deep and frontside wallrides out of the shallow end pretty much every go. He can’t quite stick a 540 ollie over the hip but with the bag of tricks already behind him he’s the obvious choice for first place in the jam, taking home 300 party tokens with Sam Pulley and Ryan Price taking second and third respectively. Meanwhile, the best trick cash is shared between Blinky for his rock melon to rock and Ryan for his backside nosepick.
We head outside to see Jambul, straight from the pub with Aiden and covered in blood. There is talk of taking him to hospital but he refuses and we make plans to leave for home. I leave him dripping all over Joe’s back seat and head back to Leeds in another car, returning to find the house’s handrail knocked off due to a caveman boardslide attempt by the bleeding Bradfordian. The handrail is accepted as another sacrifice to the Halloween spirits and we settle in for a night of booze, soap bar and the occasional wet hill bomb to keep the senses sharpened. Halloween 2015 ruled, roll on next year…